The best employers identify the strengths of each individual employee and use those strengths and talents to build a better company. In a nutshell, they focus on the strengths, not the weaknesses. Same with parenting, it is far too common for parents to harp on their children for their weaknesses rather than their strengths.
If I could change one thing about our world, it would be to completely re-vamp our education system, how we teach children, what we teach children and how we measure success in school. Our education system focuses on academics: math, science, English and history. This is great for the 15% of kids who are academically gifted. But what about the other 85% of kids whose strengths are not academics – but athletics, art, music, choir, creative writing, social skills or foreign language? Especially now that schools coast to coast are scrapping their music, art and foreign language programs, it is essential that each parent identify her child’s talents and provide them amble opportunities to thrive – because the schools aren’t going to do it for you. The end result? If your child is a talented athlete or gifted violinist but makes C’s or D’s in math or history, he is labeled a “dumb jock”, “stupid”, “lazy”, and “unmotivated”. On top of that, his SAT scores will not be strong and universities will throw your application in the trash. How do I know this? It happened to me!
All throughout junior high and high school I loved music, choir, drama and sports – those were my strengths. I struggled tremendously with academics. I never was a strong student and due to the “no pass no play” rules, I felt the pressure to cheat at times just to keep from failing a class. I scored an embarrassing 750 on my SATs and only got accepted to Baylor University because I had many family members who went there (they had to take me!). But what were my successes as an adult? Was I a chemist, accountant or contestant on Jeopardy? No. Coincidentally, I was a singer, songwriter, salesperson, author, speaker and entrepreneur. My strengths as an adult are a carbon copy of my strengths as a child. It is unacceptable that our schools only recognize the academically gifted and force the other children to feel stupid.
The same philosophy applies in business. Identify the strengths of your employees, agents, contractors or team. No employee or child should have to live in a one-size-fits-all world.
- Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:
|Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”):|
|Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)|
|Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)|
|Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)|
|Musical intelligence (“music smart”)|
|Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)|
|Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)|
|Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)|
- Dr. Gardner says that our schools and culture focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. We esteem the highly articulate or logical people of our culture. However, Dr. Gardner says that we should also place equal attention on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences: the artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs, and others who enrich the world in which we live. Unfortunately, many children who have these gifts don’t receive much reinforcement for them in school. Many of these kids, in fact, end up being labeled “learning disabled,” “ADD (attention deficit disorder,” or simply underachievers, when their unique ways of thinking and learning aren’t addressed by a heavily linguistic or logical-mathematical classroom.
What are some strengths your children have that are not supported or recognized by your local schools? What is your action plan to help develop